Golden Rice and Other GMO Fairy Tales
The golden rice that was supposed to cure Vitamin A deficiencies and save a million children a year turns out to be something less than a miracle. On August 23rd, Dr. Michael Hansen told legislators at the House of Representatives a child would have to eat 10 kilograms of it every day to reach the minimum daily requirement. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation promotes it for developing countries.
In 2009, South African farmers suffered huge losses when Monsanto’s GM seeds failed to produce. Mexico refused to allow GM maize for years, but in March 2011 the government inserted a wedge into its resistance by approving a Monsanto pilot project. In early June 2011, Kenya approved importing of genetically modified maze, in spite of the protests of Kenyan farmers.
The litany goes on. An increasing body of research shows genetically modified crops to be the wrong answer to the question of how to feed the world. Yet proponents of biotechnology continue to insist GM crops are the only way to address climate change, environmental degradation and hunger. They slap an “anti-science” label on anyone who suggests this agricultural emperor has no clothes. They blame activists and regulators for slowing down their life-saving, planet-rescuing technology.
They need not waste their breath about regulators. President Obama invited foxes into the food henhouse. When Tom Vilsack took over the post of Secretary of Agriculture, he brought along his friendly relationship with Monsanto executives. In early 2011, the USDA opened the doors to completely unregulated planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods is no other than Michael Taylor, who was an outside attorney for Monsanto before he became their vice president. Jeffrey Smith wrote, “He had also been the counsel for the International Food Biotechnology Council (IFBC), for whom he drafted a model of government policy designed to rush GMOs onto the market with no significant regulations. The final FDA policy that he oversaw, which did not require any safety tests or labeling, closely resembled the model he had drafted for the IFBC.”
WikiLeaks documents show just how tight the connections are between the biotech industry and the US government, a more than cordial relationship that began before Obama came into office. Truthout reported this week, “Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.”
Here are two excerpts from leaked cables:
US Ambassador for France Craig Stapleton, December 14, 2007: “…we should not be prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting seed business in Europe…
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU…”
A 2010 cable marked “sensitive”: Embassy Rabat’s Economic, Agriculture, and Public Affairs Sections request Biotech Outreach Funds as outlined in the proposal below to support efforts to influence scientists and policy makers in Morocco regarding the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.”
So much for regulators, and so much for the government’s looking after the interests of people at home or abroad. Clearly, the US government is more concerned about trade relations and the income from a highly successful agribusiness sector than about the health of people or the planet.
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